By Samantha Hiyler
Saint Vincent is known for being a close, tight-knit community. However, some of the faculty, staff and students are closer than others. Many members of the SVC community have children, a spouse, or a parent on campus as well.
Two of the couples who work together at Saint Vincent are Caryl Fish, professor of interdisciplinary science, and her husband, Daryle Fish, associate professor of chemistry, and Theresa Torisky, advising coordinator/academic advisor/professional tutor, and her husband, Eugene Torisky, associate professor of philosophy.
Connections between students and parents who work at Saint Vincent are also widespread as seen with Susan Sommers, professor of history, and her daughter, Sophia Sommers, junior computer science major; Thomas Cline, professor of business administration, and his daughter Jill Cline, senior business economics and marketing major, and Michael Krom, professor of philosophy, and his son, James Krom, homeschooled high school junior taking classes at Saint Vincent.
“In general, I like to think of Saint Vincent as an extended family,” said John Smetanka, vice president of Academic Affairs and student dean. Smetanka’s wife, Sharon Smetanka, is a part time nurse at the Wellness Center.
Caryl Fish, who has been teaching at Saint Vincent for 28 years, and Daryle Fish, who has been teaching for 27 years at Saint Vincent, reflected on how the college has been supportive of, not only their desire to work together, but also their family overall.
“Neither of us grew up in this area,” explained Daryle Fish, “ [We] don’t have extended family in the area so essentially there’s a lot of other professors that sort of function somewhat as aunts and uncles [to our children].”
However, Caryl Fish believes there might have been some initial qualms to hiring the pair due to complicating the family dynamic in the work place.
“I think there was some hesitation [in hiring us] early on,” said Caryl Fish, “but for the most part, I think [Saint Vincent] has been really supportive of us both being here.”
Daryle Fish stated that he and his wife share joy in each other’s accomplishments and that they both enjoy being able to work together at Saint Vincent.
Theresa Torisky, who has been working at Saint Vincent for 16 years, and Eugene Torisky, who has been working at Saint Vincent for 17 years, both commented on how working together had always been a part of their plan and they were both happy to find the fulfillment of this goal in Saint Vincent.
“We had kind of said, ‘wouldn’t it be nice if we ended up working at the same place,’” said Eugene Torisky, “‘We could have lunch together, work down the hall and see each other.’ It’s funny how hard that is to do.”
Theresa Torisky finds it beneficial to work in the same environment as her husband because it gives them topics in common to talk about.
“We find it very nice to be able to talk about college issues together and we feel like we can get more stuff done that way,” stated Theresa Torisky.
As for the dynamic between parent and child at Saint Vincent, there is a range of mixed responses.
“I told [Alexander and Sophia] that they can take classes from almost everyone, except me,” Susan Sommers said.
Life, according to both Sophia and Susan Sommers, is made easier by being on campus together in that it helps to maintain their mother/daughter relationship and the fact that Sophia Sommers’s attendance is less of a financial burden.
“Sending college students out there with a lot of debt is the kiss of death,” explained Susan Sommers.
Michael Krom finds Saint Vincent to be a welcoming environment of families, especially with the Step-Up Program and the fact that his son, James Krom, is able to take classes as a high schooler at Saint Vincent. James Krom plans to attend one of his father’s courses this summer and the pair is eager to see what their dynamic will be like in the classroom setting.
Thomas Cline has had his daughter, Jill Cline, in six of his classes over the past four years and reports that he did not even mention their being related and downplayed all their interactions in the classes.
“It was a little awkward at first, but now I enjoy it,” said Jill Cline, referring to being in her father’s classes, “When he’s goofy or annoying, I can call him out on it!”
Thomas Cline explained that it was not just the free tuition that led to him sending three of his children to Saint Vincent for their college education; it was that he found Saint Vincent to be a rewarding place, not only to work at, but to receive an education from, as well.
“It’s an affirmation that I believe in Saint Vincent,” said Thomas Cline.